Posts Tagged ‘conversation’

Through the Back Door

November 11, 2014
Experimented some more on the coffee pot.

Experimented some more on the coffee pot.

I’ve had young artists say, “Of course, Mr. Wyeth, I can go out and take a photograph in a blizzard of that tree with the snow hitting it; and I don’t know why you waste months making dozens of drawings, because I can take you back in a couple of seconds with this splendid photograph that I can work from in the studio.”  I said, “You’re forgetting one thing, you know, and that’s the spirit of the object, which, if you sit long enough, will finally creep in through the back door and grab you.  With a photograph you will lose all that.”  I don’t think anyone can deny it.

Andrew Wyeth

I’ll never wear out this quote from Wyeth.  For years I worked from photographs because I just didn’t get it.  Plein air painting the landscape broke me away from photos, but then I found myself terrified to “address” a still life object up close and personal.  Two winters ago, I broke out of that phobia and painted two large still lifes in my garage on full sheets of watercolor paper.  Both are framed now, and over two dozen smaller ones have followed.  Wyeth really nailed it–the longer you spend staring at an object, contemplating its appearance, the more it seeps into your consiousnessness, and it is so subtle, as though slipping in through the back door.  I had a number of business matters to address this afternoon, and even more quality conversations, so there wasn’t a great deal of time left for the studio tonight.  But I did take some more pokes at the coffee percolator and feel now that I have done about all I can with this one.  I’m not satisfied with the result, but that only means it is time to begin a new one.  For over a week, I have made premliminary studies in charcoal, pencil and watercolor of a lantern, coffee mug and percolator, and have learned so much about watercolor washes and texturing techniques. Yet I feel that I am just beginning my study of this genre.

This blog entry is going to be short, but there is very good reason–I have had no fewer than six very meaningful conversations with very special people today and tonight who mean more to me than they could ever realize.  These conversations began over the lunch hour and extended until just a few moments ago.  You know who you are–thank you and I love you all.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

The Art of Conversation

January 16, 2014
Thumbnail Sketches from the Edward Hopper Exhibit

Thumbnail Sketches from the Edward Hopper Exhibit

A Second Page of Sketches of Hopper Compositions

A Second Page of Sketches of Hopper Compositions

Sketching from the Museum's Permanent Collection

Sketching from the Museum’s Permanent Collection

True happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise; it arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one’s self; and, in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions.

Joseph Addison, The Spectator, no. 1, March 17, 1711

After a challenging day in the classroom, I was gifted with enriching conversation over lunch and coffee with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in years.  It was great catching up on old times and talking in depth about values that have mattered to both of us.  I was so thrilled with the respite.  Following that enriching conversation, I headed east into Dallas.  The Museum of Art is open until 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays, so I thought I would get my “Hopper fix.”  This time I took a pencil and made a series of thumbnail sketches and notes in my journal.  As the night unfolded, I alternated three separate excursions through the Hopper gallery with side trips through the European, American, Meso-American, African and Far Eastern exhibits.   I took my time, and the longer I strolled the galleries, perusing the works, the more I became aware of how my breathing changed and how sweet the environment became.

What I was not prepared for was the engaging conversations that occurred with three of the guards overseeing the Hopper exhibit.  I am not used to museum guards having anything to say, but this trio was absolutely stunning in their depth of knowledge and appreciation for Hopper and their enthusiasm for art in general.  I didn’t want to leave.  And frankly, I cannot wait to return to the Dallas Museum of Art for the chance of conversing with them further.  I wish I could give them a “shout out” on this blog, but I feel I need to protect their identities, so . . . if any of you read this, THANK YOU for an enchanting conversation.  I think you are a wonderful asset to the museum and a reason why it has become a much more enjoyable environment for art lovers to come and spend an evening.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Close Second to a Parisian Sidewalk Cafe

February 24, 2011

Sidewalk Cafe Life at Eureka Springs

Texas temperatures are getting better–80 degrees and sunny today.  My garage has turned into an art studio/man cave for me, with a portable TV/VCR playing an assortment of tapes for my listening pleasure while I paint–lectures on Friedrich Nietzsche, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams to name just a few.  I feel myself entering this composition that I’ve tinkered with for several months now.  I can almost hear the voices around the table discussing poetry, philosophy, theology, books–all the artistic elements that keep us alive and alert.

This setting is in downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where it was my profound privilege to teach a week of plein air watercolor classes for the Eureka Springs School of the Arts.  It was my first time, and I have an application pending there now, hoping with all I have that there will be a class again this year.  My two favorite towns so far are Waxahachie, Texas and Eureka Springs, Arkansas, for on-site watercoloring.  Both towns boast streets lined with Victorian architecture, flower beds, cute shops around the downtown district, and compositions for painting in any direction one looks.

This particular painting is huge by my standards–30 x 22″–and it involves elements that are outside my comfort zone–people and a myriad of details.  I have avoided genre painting for a number of years, realizing that there are countless artists “out there” who do it so exceedingly well.  But I recently read something from the Journals of Henry David Thoreau that convinced me to go for this: “There is always room and occasion enough for a true book on any subject, as there is room for more light on the brightest day, and more rays will not interfere with the first.”  All I had to do was substitute “painting” for “book,” and I got his point.  My contribution to this genre of painting will in no way diminish what has been done by others, and yes, there is room in this world of art for me to contribute as well.  So . . . with that in mind, I was liberated to go after this composition.

Today was quite a full day–high school classes by day, a trip to the veterinarian this afternoon, and a college class tonight.  But there is still time to engage in the arts, and I so love returning to my studio, even when the day has been filled with “work.”  Thoreau said (I believe in Walden) “To effect the quality of the day is the highest of the arts.”  That I must remember.  Though packed to the rim, today has nevertheless been “artful.”

Thanks for reading.  Talk to you again tomorrow . . .